Losing my mind, Coffee Roaster 4-6 LB

defgeek

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Jul 7, 2015
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I am losing my mind.

For days/weeks I have been searching all over the place for advice on roasters, where to buy, what to look for, where it should be made, materials, fuel source, where it ships from, etc.

Buckeye Coffee Roasters, Mill City, Diedrich, my head is spinning.

I have scavenged the forums looking for help and I am coming across mostly older posts. Therefore, I am making a new one with the hopes I can get some help.

Here is what I have found so far along with some information about myself:

Im in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan (notice there a few people from Michigan here). I am a home roaster who cant keep up with the amount of people asking to purchase coffee from me and my very worn Behmor. Recently, my coffee somehow got in to the hands of a coffee shop that wants to purchase about 10-15lbs a week and stock it. I told them that sounds great, but probably not at this time (as I need to upgrade my roaster and get my feet underneath me). In short, I love roasting and would love to sell to them, I have an opportunity to upgrade and sell some. I am not looking to do it full time (meaning a larger roaster is not really needed), just a side business. With all that, I have settled on this:

  • 4 lb drum roaster (though could go smaller 2-3lb if it make sense for better quality)
  • Gas (as I have the hook up, why not)
  • I have up to about 5k-6k to spend (not sure if this is realistic)

Few additional notes:
  • I have done legal research to be ready for what I need to for now, that being roasting location, labels, etc. All set on that front (as far as I know)
  • I am not sure if it is worth trying to purchase something close by in case it needs to be serviced (I am pretty handy and happy to fix myself if needed)
  • I would rather spend more on quality then quantity

I know these types of posts pop up from time to time. I am not specifically looking for "buy this one" (though that would make it easier haha). What I really need help with is what questions should I be researching so I know which roaster is good for what I need. Should I be concerned with the geographical location of where I am purchasing? Cast iron vs steel? I am finding either large roaster shops or tinkerers in their basement making them, I am not sure what brands are trusted.

Again, any help, or links would be of a huge help! love this forum, thanks!

- :decaf: Sitting here losing my mind,
DefGeek
 

quantumbeancoffee

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Jan 16, 2015
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I would look at the Diedrich IR 2.5. The only problem is that its about double your budget however the 2.5 is unique in that its for light commercial and does't require an afterburner. Most roaster manufacturers will have a sample roaster and then jump to the 5K roaster. Diedrich (for better or worse) made the 2.5 (in my opinion) to bridge that gap and win those customers looking to move form home to commercial roasting. Also, for whats its worth, it might make sense to look at the IR5 as its only about 5K more and double the capacity. Scalability becomes very important in this regard as more and more people start to request your coffee you might just wish you had considered the 5 Kilo. I've been where you are and it does make your head spin. I settled with a Diedrich IR 1 that was "used" and am already looking to upgrade to the 5. I will say that I do love my Diedrich and it would be difficult to change brands at this point.
 

sae

Member
Nov 16, 2010
183
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Have you looked at BBQ drum roasters? Might meet your needs for now. Also look at US Roaster Corp.
 
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defgeek

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Jul 7, 2015
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Have you looked at BBQ drum roasters? Might meet your needs for now. Also look at US Roaster Corp.

I have seen them. Im not really interested. You lose most of your control, and I am looking to advance my roasting skills and upgrade my equipment.
 

sae

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Nov 16, 2010
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I received a quote from US Roaster Corp a while back and the 1.2lb sample roaster was about $6,250.
 
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defgeek

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I received a quote from US Roaster Corp a while back and the 1.2lb sample roaster was about $6,250.
Thanks. Wow that is higher. There seems to be huge variance in pricing from Mill city to us roaster to Diedrich, so many of them do not list prices. and hard to find comparisons.
 

peterjschmidt

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Oct 10, 2013
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Milwaukee, WI
There's nothing wrong with your questions or considerations; it's a common thing. And even though you get lots of opinions, my opinion is that it doesn't matter all that much what you settle on. Don't be like me and end up with the paralysis of analysis. The bottom line is that there really aren't any bad roasters being made these days. Well maybe some very low-end Chinese imports, Mill City is not included in that bunch. Whatever you settle on will work wonderfully for a long time, and produce as good a result as the rest of them.

That said, if my Ambex died tomorrow, I'd be calling Steve Green at Mill City. If quality is pretty much even across the board, and it is, I'd buy from MCR based on price, and the excellent, bend-over-backwards service they provide.
 

ellatas

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Jul 17, 2014
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Peter has some wise words.
There are many companies that come and go. So I would be wary of manufacturers that risk not being around or have had intermittent operation; you don't want to discover you can't get parts a few years after you purchased the roaster. There are other companies, such as Probat, that have been around for around 150 years and are big enough to provide on going support for a long time. However, these established manufacturers are not the cheapest option.
That being said, I've been impressed by the offers of support on this forum from Steve Green and the level of content on the Mill City website. So, if you're after a drum roaster, a small roaster from Mill City would appear to be a good "value" choice. You should be able to develop great roast profiles and push the capability of the equipment. When you outgrow this roaster, then look at larger roasters from a wider range of manufacturers with the specific capabilities you need to match your roast profiles.
If you're looking for a more simpler operation, another "value" option is the Sonofresco fluid bed roaster. While these will be easier to roast on, they won't be able to match the flavour complexity of a drum roaster. These still produce nice roasted coffee, just different. As Peter implies, most roasting equipment out there can produce good coffee.
Best of luck!
 

jgbnm

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Jan 24, 2015
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I think there are a bunch of great options out there, but at your budget there are likely fewer. I have a 1 Kg North TJ-067 from Mill City and it's been great. I had a similar struggle about what to buy and researched endlessly. I found it very helpful to talk to Steve at Mill City and I'd highly recommend that you give him a call. they've sold enough of them that you might be able to find one fairly close by you could see in person. Or take a road trip to MN.
 

cafdud

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Mar 31, 2014
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For quality and support MCR is your best option, don't get to hung up on parts availability few years down the road, commercial coffee roasters aren't that complicated piece of equipment, most parts can be purchased off the shelf from Granger, and for electronics go to omega or even ebay, at least that has been my experience keeping my Ozturk 2 kilo running. Just takes a little mechanical ability to keep it repaired. I often thought if my drum got warped might be a challenge, may need to get from Ozturk in Turkey or have one fabricated. Cast iron drum should last beyond me as long as I take care of it, give it time to cool down a little before shutting down. Hope that made a little sense. cheers
 
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defgeek

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Jul 7, 2015
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Everyone, thank you so much for your advice. It definitely put my mind to rest and pointed me in the right direction. I appreciate your time spent replying.

Thank you!!!
 

Franciskoh

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Dec 4, 2014
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Singapore
Hi Defgeek, I used to be like you a year ago went crazy searching for best roaster to suit my needs. Half year later i got a W15A Geisen in my roasting yard which is excellent in it responsive controls and monitoring capabilities during roasting process. i belief most of the Roasters in the current market already have similar capabilities and what left to consider is the pricing and after sale supports from the Roaster manufacturers, and the quantities that you need to produce every month.

Now my W15A is not enough to catch up with 400kg roasting in short notice of 2 days delivery lead time, and also not skillful enough to roast only a kg of high premium coffee beans like Blue mountain to full fill specific customer. Idealy, i should have a 30kg and a 5kg roaster to full fill the roasting needs currently, but its too big a sum for the changes now..
Hope I am sharing a valid experience in this thread:coffee1:
 

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